5 Tricks To Make Your Workout Feel Easier

  • A Hearty Bowl of Fortified Flakes
    8vFanI via Getty Images
    Women who were given iron supplements were more efficient and had a lower heart rate when performing a given exercise, found an analysis by researchers at the University of Melbourne. The effect was strongest in women who were iron-deficient or anemic, as well as in elite athletes.

    The workout hack: Make sure you’re getting 18 mg of iron per day (27 mg if you’re pregnant); many fortified cereals have 100 percent of the RDA, confirming that they are, indeed, the breakfast of champions. Note: Even though women — especially vegetarians or those with heavy periods — are more likely to be iron-deficient, an excess of the mineral can be toxic, so talk to your doctor before heavying up with supplements.

  • A Warm Up That Starts With Your Retinas
    imagewerks via Getty Images
    You know that exposing yourself — especially your eyes — to light in the morning helps your brain feel more alert, but it can wake up your muscles, too. Research has found that exposure to light for 30 minutes before waking (and additional light upon getting out of bed) can increase oxygen flow to muscles, boosting physical as well as cognitive performance.

    The workout hack: A dawn-simulator clock like this one by Lumie wakes you up by gradually filling your room with light.

  • A Fruity Drink to Help You Recover
    camelot1671 via Getty Images
    Even if you were on fire at the CrossFit box today, your burning muscles will prevent you from doing much of anything tomorrow. Watermelon, beloved by athletes as a thirst- quencher, has also been shown to lessen post-exercise muscle soreness and thus spur recovery. Exercisers who drank the antioxidant-rich juice an hour before exercise reported less discomfort than those who had a control drink, an effect the researchers attributed to the amino acid L-citrulline.

    The workout hack: Drink a bottle of real watermelon juice (not flavored sugar water) or eat a few slices of the fruit before a hard workout.

  • A Faster, Stronger, Tougher, Bendy-er Friend
    Jordan Siemens via Getty Images
    Sweating with a pal can make any workout seem to go by more quickly, but if you choose the right friend, the effect can be even greater. A partner who you perceive to be better at that activity could help increase your workout time and intensity by as much as 200 percent, found Brandon Irwin, a Michigan State University researcher. He told the American Council on Exercise that “feeling inadequate may be a potential key to motivation in exercise.”